Photo Antiquities Museum: The History Museum for Photo Enthusiasts

Old photos in the Photo Antiquities Museum

If you are the type of person, who likes to find unusual non-touristy places, the Photo Antiquities Museum in Pittsburgh is a great place to visit. This museum has everything related to photographs: their history, how they were developed, what was shot, and with what. With a highly knowledgeable guide, they will show you so much about photography history in a delightful and entertaining way.

Old photos in the Photo Antiquities Museum

Getting There

The Photo Antiquities Museum is located on the North Side of Pittsburgh on Ohio Street. It is in the middle of a bunch of downtown stores, and at first, glance looks closed.  But, the trick is that you have to walk two doors down to the camera store and pick up your personal tour guide.  This fantastic museum only gives guided tours but, the knowledge they impart is outstanding.Photo Antiquities Museum Entrance

Guided Tour

We spent a good hour getting the most extensive history of how photo development has progressed over the years.  We viewed Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, and Albumen Prints.  Our highlights were the Victorian, Civil War, mug shots, and post-mortem photos. I didn’t realize the extensive history of photography and how prints were made before I walked through this door.Different type of photos at the Photo Antiquities Museum

Individual Photos

The evolvement of when and how we took photographs has definitely changed over the years. From taking photos of the dead, preserving family legacies by taking family portraits, to mug shots of criminals. Each picture tells a story, and every one of them is unique and deserves to be told and seen.

Vintage Cameras

As we followed our tour guide further back in the museum, we were treated to more surprises.  A natural atrium room filled with vintage cameras.  There were cameras everywhere we looked.  We even tried to find our cameras on the wall stacked with the modern versions.


The biggest reveal was the complete collection of the only known pictures of Shantytown, Pittsburgh from the 1930s. The wall was filled with astonishing photos showing what life was like living in wooden shacks in the Strip District.  A photographer for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, Ed Salamony, took the pictures but, never published or even developed them.  He donated the negatives to the museum where they were developed and are now displayed for those willing to tour this fantastic facility.


The latest exhibit they are showcasing is “The Golden Age of Flying” from the years of 1919 to 1940. Some of the aviation photographs on display have never been seen before. This museum does a great job of showcasing the history of photographs in a particular time. I definitely need to make a trip out to Pittsburgh and see this exhibit. Have you been here already and seen this exhibit? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel. If you are coming to Pittsburgh for a visit, check out these posts:

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